Test Stress by Robin Gorman Newman

Seth and I had an enjoyable spring break week….largely spent running around NYC seeking various shows, eating out and roaming (wearing my trusty knee brace).  Also took a lovely boat ride.

It was a nice bonding time for us, and I try to relish these experiences.  They feel so fleeting.  He’s growing up fast, and has little downtime from school.  And, even when there is downtime, there’s work to be done.

The last day before school break, Seth came home with a 40 page “optional” packet of math and reading exercises to be done in preparation for the standardized ELA exam, which was three days this week.  “Optional” I ask you?  How so?  Would a 9 year old  opt to do it during school break?    Would you if you were that child?  Or does it then become a potential battle royal for the parent to get the child to put pencil to paper? (You know the answer to that.)

Why was the exam scheduled for just two days after their return from the break?  Who on the Board of Ed made that decision?  Do they have kids taking it?

Seth was up at 4AM one night this week.  He said he had a bad dream, but my husband and I both think it was an ELA-induced nightmare. 

A mom friend of mine with a son the same age said that he, too, was up around the same time, due to ELA stress.

I bet a lot of families had this experience. 

This causes overall stress in the household.

It’s been many years since I’ve taken a written test, but I recall the days of standardized exams, though don’t remember ever taking one at age 9. 

A close mom friend of mine who lives in Queens has been totally stressed out about the exam.  Her son is in fourth grade, and the result of the test impacts where he will go to middle school.  Not all schools in Queens are created equal, so to speak, so she is beside herself with concern, and trying to think positive that he’ll score well and snag a coveted spot in a good next school.  Living in Great Neck (Long Island), we are hugely fortunate to know where my son will go to school for Middle and High School, and academically, we couldn’t be more pleased than our district.  His current school is a Blue Ribbon School, and I wouldn’t mind going there myself.  They offer a plethora of cool programs, including Lego’s building, which Seth adores. 

Marc and I are crossing fingers that Seth will score well on the ELA.  We know that his teachers are stellar, so we don’t need good results for their sake.  But, we want Seth to feel good about himself.  We’ve been told by his teacher that he’s making a valiant exam  effort, and we can’t ask for more.  We’re already proud of him, and don’t want his self esteem to suffer because of a test. Not everyone is a good test taker, and it certainly doesn’t determine your ultimate success in life.

He’s only just begun his experience with standardized tests, and as the years go on, they will get harder ‘n harder.  Nothing truly prepares you, or the parent.  We offer all the support we can, including a reading and math tutor after school.  But, in the heat of the moment, skills and knowledge can easily go out the window due to nerves.  Seth has never been an uptight kid, so time will tell how he fares, and how we do as parents of a test-taking kid.

I’m glad we’re no where near SAT time, though time flies. 

  1. One Response to “Test Stress by Robin Gorman Newman”

  2. I couldn’t give a hoot about those ridiculous tests! I told a friend that I never spent so much time as my 8 year-old son was for my high school regents exams!! I don’t even think I ever spent this much time for the SATs! The educational system is pushing our kids at younger and younger ages to do practically the impossible. In fact, my son, who is bright and knows his limits did something very interesting the day of the first test. After taking the 90 minute test, he had lunch and then went back to the classroom to find he had to take ANOTHER prep test!! He knew he was done taking tests for the day. He told the teacher he didn’t feel well and went to the nurse. She knew there was nothing wrong, so she didn’t call us. My son stayed there until school ended. When he relayed this back to me, I thought to myself, “Good for you!! Good for knowing when enough is enough and acting on it!!” I didn’t condone what he did but I also didn’t reprimand him. I just let it go. I wish I had this innate ability when I was 8 years old. By the way, there were 7 posts from 7 Moms on Facebook discussing how their 3rd Graders either didn’t feel well before going to school or getting home from school the first testing day. All from different school districts. How necessary is it to force kids to get ulcers in third grade due to taking standardized tests??

    By Cara Potapshyn Meyers on Apr 24, 2012